Labour to conduct review into failure of HS2 following cancellation

Labour has announced that it will conduct a post-mortem inquiry into the failures of the HS2 project, in a move that all but confirms that the party will not undo the decision made by Rishi Sunak in Government.

Yesterday Rachel Reeves, Labour’s shadow chancellor, announced Labour would act to prevent a repeat of the fiasco of spiralling costs by creating a new cross-government unit to keep major infrastructure projects under control.

Louise Haigh, the shadow transport secretary, said she had commissioned the inquiry, which would be independent and ensure “lessons are learned” from HS2, after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak cancelled the high speed line north of Birmingham last week.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Commenting on the decision, Ms Haigh said: “After 13 years of breaking our transport system, the Tories have the audacity to try and make it the centrepiece of their conference and they really did defy expectations.

Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves making her keynote speech during the Labour Party Conference in Liverpool.Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves making her keynote speech during the Labour Party Conference in Liverpool.
Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves making her keynote speech during the Labour Party Conference in Liverpool.

“What more do you need to know about 13 years of failure than a flagship levelling-up project that will never reach the North of England and is not set to reach central London either. Only in Tory Britain.”

Ms Reeves also announced that she had tasked Labour’s Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Darren Jones, with conducting a review of how a future Labour government can deliver major projects on time and on budget.

The shadow chancellor said that she would also oversee an estimated £4 billion clampdown on Government waste through three main policies.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

These include spending less on consultants and getting departments to plan ahead of the skills they will need over the next decade, saving an estimated £1.4 billion.

In a pop at senior Government figures such as Jeremy Hunt and Rishi Sunak, Ms Reeves said a Labour government would stop taxpayers money being “wasted” on ministerial private jets by instructing officials to enforce rules most stringently.

In addition, Labour will appoint a Covid Corruption Commissioner to oversee the recovery of the billions of pounds lost through waste and fraud in Covid contracts during the pandemic.

The party said that up to £2.6 billion of taxpayer money lost to fraud could still be recovered.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“It is incumbent on government to make sure major projects are delivered on time and on budget,” she said.

“I will not tolerate taxpayers’ money being treated with the disrespect we have seen over recent years.

“I will not turn a blind eye to dither, delay and incompetence. I will hold those responsible to account. And I will demand action when they are not delivering value for money.”

It comes ahead of Sir Keir Starmer’s speech at the party’s conference on Tuesday where he is due to say that his five missions will usher in a decade of national renewal “totally focused on the interests of working people.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“We have to be a government that takes care of the big questions so working people have the freedom to enjoy what they love,” he is expected to say.

"More time, more energy, more possibility, more life. We all need the ability to look forward, to move forward, free from anxiety. That’s what getting our future back really means.”